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It was a beautiful summers day when catastrophe struck. My fridge had finally iced it's last cube, and chilled it's last wine. It had been making strange noises and intermittently defrosting in the weeks leading up to that, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise, but this resulted in me needing to make an unplanned dash to an out of town electrical retailer for a new fridge freezer with lightening quick delivery. At the time, I rather liked those funky Smeg ones that come in all sorts of fancy colours, but they seemed expensive for what they were.
In all honesty, my earlier fridge freezer wasn't any great shakes, and I'd had it since living in my previous flat. It fitted in well there, but here was a chance to improve. The only problem was that the intended space for a fridge freezer is rather awkward in my house, as it should fit in a corner under the top of the stairwell. This leaves a space that is rather wide yet not very tall - ideal if you're a family of supersized hobbits. Not so great for ordinary Joes.
Having whittled the store's available stock down to those that would fit in the 'niche', we chose this one. It came in the right colour for us (we didn't want white as it would look out of place in our kitchen), was definitely big enough for a couple, or maybe even a small family to use and has the advantage of the fridge part being on top - most of the other 'possibles' I saw seemed to favour having the freezer part up top.
I recall it was delivered promptly and brought into the kitchen by the delivery guys. Once unwrapped, and wiped down, I left it to stand for 24 hours, which is advised.
One of my niggles with this is that the doors are fitted to open on the left. We need them to open on the right though, so although you get instructions and the necessary bits to do it with, it's all a bit of unnecessary hassle. Surely there's a 50-50 chance that Hoover's customers will need their fridge and freezer doors opening on the right side? I don't know why it wasn't possible for me to order this with both doors opening the way I need them, it just created lots of bulging eyes and red mist in my house until it was put right.
Much as I'd like to compare this to the Tardis, it's more a case of you getting what you see.
The fridge has two clear glass shelves and the fridge sides have so many places where the shelves can be fitted, it isn't true. The third shelf down is meant to stay in one place and acts as a cover for the obligatory salad drawer, although quite often there's chocolate to be found relaxing in mine.
A chrome bottle rack is also included, and is easily attached and detached to one of the shelves, if you're likely to chill some wine. Removing it is easy peasy if you'd rather have the space on the shelf for food.
The fridge door has two smallish trays, which again are height adjustable. These are only really useful to hold small jars or cans of drink. The third, bottom tray is deeper and ours is currently holding a 4 pint of milk, two 2 pints, and a large tub of yoghurt.
The fridge is spacious enough to hold all the liquid essentials needed in my house: milk, fruit juice or smoothies, and white wine. As I tend to do food shopping once or twice a week, it's a good enough size to hold all the weeks food as well.
One nice touch is that the three shelves have a shiny chrome coloured rim all the way around. This wasn't a clincher in our to buy or not to buy conversation, but it does look rather nice. It also prevents anything that has leaked from dribbling down to the next shelf, and possibly contaminating the food you've stored there, which I imagine is it's intention.
I'm average height at 5 ft 4 (and a half) inches and I don't have a problem either seeing what's in the top shelves of the fridge or manoeuvring food in and out of the fridge generally. I'm also almost at eye level with the top door tray, so access or visibility isn't a problem there either.
One thing this doesn't come with, and that I don't miss is an egg holder. Call me a food snob if you will, but I prefer to keep my eggs at room temperature.
The freezer section has four drawers (yes four! Some lightweights only have three!). The top three drawers are identical. The bottom drawer is slightly deeper but doesn't go back so far, presumably to make way for all the electrical trickery which goes into making this work.
I can vouch for the freezer being a perfectly good size for two people, although it does, of course, depend on what you intend to store in there as to how quickly you'll use up the space. Trying to make room for a few bulky items such as loaves of bread test my ingenuity to it's limit, whereas flatter items such as pizza's are a doddle.
All well and good so far, but how noisy is it? There's nothing more irritating than having a fridge freezer humming so loud that you think it's about to take off. Well mine does has a permanently audible hum, but it isn't particularly intrusive or worrying. It does occasionally get louder, presumably when the fan kicks in to control the temperature.
I've owned this for nearly four years now, but in terms of how it looks, I still think it looks sleek and modern, but unless I'm mistaken fridge freezers aren't known for rapid design change. The colour doesn't look dated and still fits in well in my kitchen. There are no plasticky handles getting in the way, both doors have inbuilt handles that are easy to use.
More important than how it looks is how well it performs. In a nutshell it keeps the temperature in both sections very well indeed. I keep a small thermometer in the top of the fridge, and the only time I notice the temperature fluctuate is when I manually adjust it. There's a small gauge for adjusting the temperature between 1 and 5.
We have a fairly good sized kitchen/diner which faces east and the dining room patio doors let the sunlight stream in for most of the morning. Although my fridge isn't in a direct sunlight, it is a naturally warm room, with patio doors, a single kitchen door, and kitchen window. This results in me needing to manually adjust the temperature gauge in the fridge section 4 or 5 times a year. In winter, setting it on 2 is usually adequate, but around this time of year, the thermometer edges towards 5 degrees, so I usually turn it to 3 or 4.
I can't fault the build quality of this fridge freezer either. One of the non-negotiable requirements for me was that my new appliance was frost free. Gone are the days when I will manually defrost a freezer and scrape out all the ice. So far, it's worked like a dream. I imagine frost free fridge freezers need extra parts than their 'ordinary' counterparts don't, but this hasn't had any parts breaking down or needing to be replaced. Even the rubber seals are still all intact on the doors, and the fridge light still works.
As for the all important stats:
It's a 50/50 split fridge and freezer. That said, I was surprised to find the manual gives the cubic foot capacities as the fridge having 4.9 and the freezer 2.6. I was expecting it to have been more equal than that. As for the dimensions, it's 155 x 52 x 58 cm. It's got an energy rating of A, but then they all seem to have that, if not an A+. For the purpose of this review, the annual energy consumption is supposed to be 276 kwh, but I have no means of accurately measuring it so I'll have to take Hoover at their word.
As I've said, I've had this for 4 years now, and have no complaints with it. For couples or singles it's an ideal sized fridge freezer, unless you're lazy and store lots of ready meals in your freezer or enjoy batch cooking in which case you'd also want a larger freezer. It's a good size appliance without being the centre of attention in the kitchen like the larger American ones.
Energy Efficiency / Short name: Hoover HNMF2605A